Attorney wants Deputy investigated for excessive force claims
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
LEE COUNTY - You've seen the dramatic video of a Lee County Deputy pointing his weapon at small children on Fox 4 before. Now tonight, a Cape Coral man questioning why the Lee County Sheriff's Office never fully investigated his claim that the same deputy used excessive force against him. Four in your Corner investigator Mike Mason broke this story and is here now with the latest.
Deputy Scott Hill began his career at the Lee County Sheriff's Office four years ago. In the past year, he's been accused of using excessive force on two separate occasions. Hill has been investigated but never disciplined. Attorney John De Leon wants to know why.
John De Leon: "Our concern is about the Internal Affairs complaint process here in Lee County and reviewing how those investigations are conducted."
De Leon represents a Fort Myers teen whose father was arrested last July by Hill for having an open container in front of his home. In this video the man's family, including the teen, approaches Hill demanding answers. That's when Hill pulls out his weapon.
John De Leon: "He did take out a taser and pointed it in the direction of these kids."
At one point Hill approaches the 14 year old girl with handcuffs and grabs her wrists. She then takes a swing at Deputy Hill and misses. She's then taken to the ground and arrested. But in Deputy Hill's report he writes, the 14-year old, "Raised her fists and struck him in the arm and chest multiple times before she was restrained by another Deputy."
The video clearly shows the teen took one swing.
John De Leon: "It's clear to me there were not multiple blows by my client."
Five months later, Hill is once again accused of using excessive force when responding to a call of shots fired near The Office Pub, a gay bar in Fort Myers. Seven customers were outside at the time and say two Deputies, including Hill, approached them with guns drawn, ordering them to the ground. Robert Ortiz is handicapped and says he couldn't get down.
Robert Ortiz: "He said get on your knees now" and I said, "I can't" and he fires his taser at me."
Hill's taser struck Ortiz in the stomach.
De Leon: "The incident at The Office Pub shows an officer who may be out of control."
All seven customers then filed written complaints against Deputy Hill. Ortiz even filed this sworn affidavit. The Sheriff's Office tells Fox 4: "An investigation was completed and closed as unfounded."
But in a court hearing last month regarding the 14-year old girl, audio recordings show Hill denied ever being investigated by the Sheriff's Office.
Deputy Scott Hill: "I've never been the target of an investigation period of any kind, use of force or otherwise, nothing ever, ever, ever.
The Sheriff's Office confirms Hill was investigated but no action was taken against him because, quote: "Mr. Ortiz was not willing to be interviewed by our Internal Affairs detective. Without such, there is no basis to scrutinize the response to resistance actions of the deputy."
But Ortiz says he tried to cooperate.
Robert Ortiz: "IA (Internal Affairs) sent me a letter and I returned his phone call, left him a message and I have not heard back from him since."
Ortiz wanted to have an attorney present while being interviewed by detectives. De Leon has agreed to help Ortiz so the Sheriff's Office can conduct a thorough investigation.
Robert Ortiz: “I just don't want anybody else to get hurt, it's wrong."
Ortiz says he wants Internal Affairs to investigate Deputy Hill again but we don't know if that will happen. As far as the teenage girl in our report; she was charged with resisting arrest with violence. De Leon is hoping to get those charges dropped.